Friday, January 27, 2012

South America and Antarctica 1 - Rio de Janeiro

We arrived at the heart of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro mid afternoon on December 1, suffering from extreme jet lag.  Weather was beautiful, sunny, bright blue sky, and beach activities were in full swing outside our hotel.
Click on any image in this blog in order to see a larger version.

 I snapped this frame from our hotel window just before we headed out in search of dinner.  Notice how bright and clear the weather is.  Sadly, we were too messed up that evening to do anything other than go to bed early and crash hard.  I say sadly because the next day brought very different weather...

Extremely low clouds, rain, marginal visibility, which turned out to be an issue as that day we were scheduled for our tour of the city.  This is the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  Didn't look very inviting.

This shot was taken at the first tram stop looking up toward the summit.  You can see the cloud layer just hanging there, covering the top.  The odd thing is, the summit of Sugar Loaf isn't all that high.  It's only 1299 feet.  That gives you an idea of just how low the clouds were. But, the price of the tour included a trip to the top, so up we went.

As hinted before, a two step process is required in order to get to the top.  First we ride a cable car up to the top of a shorter mountain, where we then change cable cars and make our way up to the top.  Here, we've  left the first stop and are headed up.  I am looking back down in this view.  I managed to get clear access to the window and snap this picture just before we entered the clouds.

This was the view looking down from the top.  Our guide for the day, a nice lady, wasn't sure whether to apologize or ignore the obvious fact that we couldn't see anything up there.  Finally she suggested that we extend our stay and try it again another day.

The bad weather wasn't her fault, of course.  They had all sorts of nice shops at the summit and, since there wasn't much to see up there, we chatted up some of the shop keepers, who complained bitterly about the weather this summer.  (Remember, December is summertime for those south of the equator.) They said sunny days were the exception this year and the the bad weather was seriously hurting their business.

The tour bus dropped us off at this relatively new Catholic cathedral and gave us a few minutes to look around.  I have to say I was seriously unimpressed.  I did not like the cone shape, regardless of how many stained glass windows it contained.

The reinforced concrete design had no charm and did not allow any way for the outside structure to be cleaned.  Consequently, after only 30 years after having been completed, the outside is not just dirty, but seriously filthy.

The stained glass was beautiful, well, would have been really beautiful if hadn't been so dirty. 

Our hotel, on the other hand, was nice and clean.  We stayed at the Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel, which, as I mentioned before, is right on Copacabana beach.  We booked it through a travel agent and enjoyed a very reasonable rate.

It's the dark building in the middle of the frame.  The beach is just off to camera right.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this hotel is that the restaurant, where we ate our complimentary breakfast each morning, is on the fifth floor with a view that directly overlooks the beach.

Here's a view out that those windows.

They put on a great spread for breakfast.  This is just the fruit bar.  We spent three wonderful mornings enjoying a leisurely breakfast next to the large bay windows, where we had a fabulous view of the beach, and were able to watch the beach activity come alive for the day.  I don't normally recommend hotels, but this one was especially nice, and the service excellent.

Continue on to Post 2: Christ the Redeemer by clicking here


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